It’s not surprising that 2020 has been a breakout year for adaptogens: a group of over 70 herbs that have been scientifically proven to help fight fatigue , enhance your attention span, sharpen your mind, and improve your mood . The wellness world’s latest adaptogen infatuation is ashwagandha, — also known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry — which has been an essential herb in traditional medicines in Africa and the Indian subcontinent for over 3,000 years. In Ayurvedic medicine, ashwagandha root is important in the science of Rasayana, a Sanskrit word that translates to “path”, and a practice of Ayurvedic medicine that refers to the science of lengthening lifespan.
Here's what you need to know about this magical herb.
What Are the Health Benefits of Ashwagandha?
There has been extensive research on the medicinal benefits of ashwagandha. Multiple studies have shown that it’s effective at lowering blood sugar levels , and can reduce levels of the body’s natural stress hormone, cortisol. Ashwagandha has also shown that it can boost men’s testosterone levels , and could possibly improve their sperm motility . Studies have also suggested that ashwagandha can lower cholesterol, improve brain function , and reduce inflammation, things we could all benefit from.
Ashwagandha’s holistic benefits come from naturally occurring steroids called withanolides, which are best absorbed by the body when digested. Naturally, Ashwagandha has intensely bitter, pungent flavor that can be unpalatable, but fortunately, you only need to add a little bit to your diet to do your body a whole lot of good.
When adding ashwagandha to food and drinks, start slowly, adding in quarter teaspoons and tasting in between. Though you’ll grow to enjoy the flavor over time, it can be an acquired taste.
How to Use Ashwagandha
In traditional Ayurveda medicine, Ashwagandha is often given as a tonic; after its roots are dried and ground, the powder is mixed with ghee, honey and milk and served warm before bedtime. A natural sedative, Ashwagandha beverages are often used to help regulate sleep cycles, and promote a sense of relaxation.
If you can’t get past the strong taste, fear not! Ashwagandha can also be found in tinctures to be taken sublingually, and swallowable capsules.
Try a warm, soothing ashwaganda-infused beverage before bedtime; just whisk together all the ingredients together in a small saucepan, simmer over low heat for about five minutes, pour into a mug and enjoy. Here are some of our favorites.
- 2/3 cup whole or dairy-free milk
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ¼ — 1 teaspoon ashwagandha, to taste
- 2 pinches of ground cardamom
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil or ghee
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 cup milk, or non-dairy alternative
- 1/4 cup tart cherry juice
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Pinch of cinnamon
- 1/4 — 1 teaspoon ashwaghanda powder
- 2-3 teaspoons maple syrup
- ⅔ cup almond milk
- 1 Tbsp unsweetened cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
- ⅛ tsp. Vanilla extract
- 1 tsp ghee or coconut oil
- ¼ - 1 tsp. Ashwaganda powder
- Pinch sea salt
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